“Supreme Blue Rose” #6 by Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay is in the same vein as all the previous issues: surreal, only semi-decipherable, poetic and beautiful.
Of all the events in the series, Diana’s near-escape from attempted murder by Father Lancome was the most familiar and thus the most comprehensible. “Supreme Blue Rose” #6 deals with the aftermath. As Linda drives Diana away from the scene, Reuben Tube reports to Darius Dax, who decides he is going to rewrite the world. Dr. Henry and Doc Rocket confer in a sequence with a lot of information-dumping and then make a trip to a place revealed to be the Supremacy, where Danny lives. All of this feels epic and it should feel like progress, but it doesn’t gel together yet.
If readers were hoping events would come together and start to make sense in this penultimate issue, they will be disappointed. It’s still difficult to figure out precisely what is going on. The major flaw of “Supreme Blue Rose” is its deliberate opacity. No one should have to know everything about the existing mythos of “Supreme” as a prerequisite to reading a spin-off miniseries. I suspect that even readers well-versed in the details of the Supremeverse can’t annotate or fully understand all of Ellis’ world building and reframing.
There is one scene that is an exception, which is when Diana finally does make it to the Littlehaven Memorial and is unexpectedly bad-ass when she tells Judith Jordan that she wants a straight answer. Diana remains the point of view character here and speaks on behalf of the readers and their frustrations.
The “Professor Night” interludes take Ellis’ storytelling approach in “Supreme Blue Rose” to an extreme — they are both ridiculous and nonsensical on the surface but elegantly mysterious. The experience of trying to put lyrical Zen-like nonsense statements together is enjoyable. With each installment, the trajectory of “Professor Night” seems to become more and more solid with the connected adventures of the woman in the red kimono.
Lotay’s art is gorgeous as usual. Just following the lines of Darius Dax’s suit while he’s on the phone in his office is a pleasure. In every panel, there’s something worth lingering over. The image of the limo speeding through purple-gray woods against a fading orange sunlit background is dazzling because of her confident charcoal-like squiggles of leaves, which convey both horror and speed. It would be hard to top the climactic church scene in the last issue, but there’s an equally breathtaking moment when her use of orange and red combine with the drama of a full-page spread. While “Supreme Blue Rose” is confusing, that’s due to the script, not the art.
The finale next issue may finally tie some things together, but it probably won’t altogether clear up the hazy fog of questions. Ellis’ story is too insubstantial in the concrete sense and much too abstruse in its cosmology and the mechanics of its reality, yet it continues to have plenty of urgency and forward motion. Despite its obvious frustrations, “Supreme Blue Rose” is an engrossing read with its own rewards. It has a unique atmosphere and is able to fold both espionage and superpowers into what can only be described as mysticism. If one is able to dispense with conventional expectations, the payoff might be satisfying enough. Even if one gives up on Ellis’ reworking of the Supremeverse, Lotay’s art is worth the price of admission.